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Old 08-19-2019, 11:09 PM
Dr. Strangelove's Avatar
Dr. Strangelove is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,492
It is by far the best way to understand orbital mechanics at an intuitive level. Most people do not understand space at all, whether it's how orbits work or the purpose of staging or concepts like the Oberth effect.

It does so in a way which is fun--hard, but not too hard--but where the core ideas are completely accurate. And the basic game cycle is fun even (or especially) when you fail. You will blow up your rockets, and often, but it is always hilarious and motivates you to fix your design and try again.

As a simple example of how KSP forces you to learn something about space: most people tend to think of space as just going up really high. But like real life, if you do that in KSP your rocket will fall back to the planet and you will not go to space today. Instead, space (and orbit, specifically) is about going sideways really, really, fast. And it's actually crazy difficult to go that fast sideways, especially since you have to go up a little first to get out of the atmosphere. And you find that it's impossible to do so with just one stage and anything like a decent payload, so you use multiple stages to eliminate the dead weight. Each time you try and fail, you learn something about the next design, and apply that new knowledge to your next design.

The downside is that the game has a fairly high barrier to entry. They claim to be improving this in KSP2, so hopefully they can bring in a larger player base without eliminating the depth.

And there is a tremendous amount of depth in the game; making orbit is just the beginning. Orbital rendezvous, landing on the moon, asteroid intercepts, interplanetary transfers, space stations, orbital refueling, and so on are just a small number of the possibilities. If you like games which give you an open world (solar system) to explore and invent your own story in, there are few other games that come close.